MMW Op-Ed: Leveraging The Second Screen Before and After the Holidays

MMW Op-Ed Leveraging The Second Screen Before and After the HolidaysThe following is a guest contributed post by Christine Oliveri, VP of Client Services, Operations at I.Predictus.

This holiday season, the increasingly popular second-screen phenomenon — where people simultaneously use TVs, tablets and smartphones —has been creating numerous opportunities for companies to enhance engagement between consumers and their brand.

Over the last several years, second screens have quickly become popular sources for consumers researching items before deciding on a final purchase. In fact, using a tablet or smartphone while watching TV is “more common than not,” according to an April Nielsen report.

Easy access, along with the mainstream acceptance of digital tools, such as social networks, online review sites and mobile apps, has given consumers the power to compare, research, discuss and review every interaction they have with a brand’s product or service.

Think about it: The majority of us have second screens nearby most of the time, especially when watching a TV show or surfing the Web.

It’s widely accepted today that most people don’t just ‘sit and watch’ TV anymore – we typically actively participate and comment on what we’re watching through our smartphones and other connected devices. Chances are, you’ve looked up a URL or tweeted about or searched for something you saw on a show or commercial while you were watching it. And, if you haven’t, chances are you will in the near future.

As a result, ‘second-screening’ has lead to new commercial models for media owners and new channels for advertisers to reach consumers.

Smart brands today need to play right into consumers’ hands (literally) and embrace these new media consumption habits. Strategies, including dedicated hash-tags, smartphone and tablet apps, as well as bonus mobile content, are already becoming the new norm.

While it’s no secret that savvy shoppers are using their various mobile devices to make more informed shopping decisions, retailers this holiday season need to take notice and adjust their engagement strategies to fit the evolving needs of these connected consumers —- especially if they want to stay ahead of the competition.

A recent report from Forrester Research illustrates how crucial mobile consumer engagement is, especially at this time of year. With more than 186 million smartphone owners, and 87 million tablet users, many individuals are using mobile devices to aid with the shopping process this holiday season, according to the research. And while not everyone is actually making their final purchases via their mobile devices, they are indeed leveraging their smartphones, tablets and laptops to help with all the steps prior to completing their final transaction.

A number of marketers are already experimenting with this type of cross-screen marketing, but the challenge for most is whether or not they are actually creating unified campaigns that are effective enough for each individual platform.

The rise of the second screen experience has evolved into a great way for brands to ultimately drive sales. And while a TV ad has always had the power to transform viewers into shoppers, in order to create a successful second screen experience, marketers need to remember to treat outreach on all media channels as a single campaign. Unfortunately, too many companies are falling into the trap of running a different campaign for each media channel, versus one seamless, consistently branded campaign deployed across multiple channels.

The key is for companies to find the right balance between a campaign that caters to different context and consumption, while still maintaining a consistent message and feel throughout. This means working closely with all participating team members to present a consistent look and feel across the board.

Second-screen consumption can generate incredibly valuable data, offering marketers a huge opportunity to stay ahead of the curve. And while this strategy offers brand opportunities, as with most marketing initiatives, you have to make it work for your audience.

In this era of tight budgets, where every dollar of marketing spend counts, companies need to be able to demonstrate that they are getting true value from their media activities.

The second-screen industry shift in consumer decision making needs to be viewed by marketers not as a loss of power over potential customers, but rather as an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time, providing the information and support they need to make the right decisions at the end of the day.